Editorial: Alpha Chi is example of greek business as usual
Before the national office launched a flashy new ad campaign and pro-active hunt for solid UA women, Alpha Chi Omega was a sorority struggling to stay alive.
The chapter was in financial trouble and reports of hazing cast a bad light on the state of the house.
While chapter members hoped the sorority would last, paying $200 each to reduce debt, the national office swooped in and saved the day with a coup de grace. To save the house, Alpha Chi Omega killed it - the equivalent of cutting off a rotting limb for the better of the body.
Unfortunately for the women who were asked to take alumnae status, this meant a complete gutting and a fresh start.
While some former members - all of whom were offered a chance to rejoin in the summer - felt justifiably upset and cheated, the incident reveals the cold, hard fact that national greek organizations operate by Darwinian business principles.
All students who join the greek system should be wary that regardless of devotion and friendships gained, if a chapter fails to operate in the best interests of the national office it can and will be terminated for the better of the whole.
Members of sororities and fraternities join with a trust in their organizations, and a hope for strong friendships and memories. What is often overlooked is the fight for survival stemming from the disconnection between a chapter/family and the national business element.
If a chapter is performing below the national standards or financially dwindling, the national office will logically kill it in hopes of a future rebirth.
"I trusted this organization and wrote a check for $200, payable to Alpha Chi Omega," a former member said.
Trusting a national sorority is like a franchised store trusting its holding corporation. Even if the satellite operation is close, friendly and honest, the fact remains that members run the risk of losing their chapter. It's unfortunate, but greek members should know this and accept it as part of a tough system. It's horrible that the members were misled and left out in the cold, but not unsurprising or uncharacteristic.
Sigma Nu became the first fraternity to go non-alcoholic in 1996, taking a bold step toward the future of Greek Life. It went under shortly after when no new members joined.
Going greek - as last year's Alpha Chi members learned very quickly - is far from joining a family.
With the future relocation of all alcohol-related parties from fraternity houses, this revelation will surely hit many other greek members. Only the strong will survive as smaller fraternities struggle to recruit.
As Greek Life continues to evolve, its participants should be aware that friendship among brothers and sisters should be treasured, but not confused with the status of a chapter or house.